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March may be the month known for March Madness, but it's also the time of year for the annual ritual known as spring break! Time to trade the cold and snowy winter days for a week filled with sun, sand and relaxation.
For college students, StudentCity has put together a resource page to let you know when your school's spring break will be. Some breaks start as early as this week while others run the week of March 14 or 21.
Spring break isn't just for college kids, though. Younger kids get a week of school off around now, and their families often use it as an ideal time to take a family vacation to warmer climes.
There are two ways to do spring break as a cruiser: Find a cruise geared to the younger crowd during a spring break week. Or spend some time at a spring break destination before, during or after your cruise — most are near a cruise port. Among the most popular hot spots: Ft. Lauderdale, Daytona Beach, Panama City Beach, Key West and Miami Beach in Florida; Santa Monica, Venice Beach and San Diego in California; Cabo San Lucas, Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and the Bahamas, Jamaica and lots of other islands in the Caribbean.
If it's too late for you to plan a spring break getaway for this year, it’s the right time to start planning one for 2017. In our opinion, a spring break cruise is far preferable to a “traditional” island resort. That's why we've put together this list of our 10 Favorite Spring Break Cruise Vacations.
Back when I was a young college student, I took a weeklong spring break cruise on Carnival Triumph with three friends. It was a fun-filled week spent exploring the Western Caribbean, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
For those skeptical travelers who aren’t sure whether a spring break cruise is right for them, we suggest Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas (or her sister ships Allure of the Seas or Harmony of the Seas, due to debut in May). Officially the world’s largest class of cruise ships, these floating cities offer seven different themed neighborhoods. Stroll the outdoor Boardwalk complete with a carousel and Aqua Theater or enjoy a quiet lunch in Central Park, a secluded green space in the center of the ship with boutique shops and restaurants. (See? There's more to spring break than Jägermeister and jello shots!)
Oasis and her sister ships offer a variety of dining options and Broadway entertainment. College kids, young adults and families will find something to enjoy on this ship, whether it's dancing, enjoying the nightlife at more than a dozen bars or hanging out with the DreamWorks characters. With the ship's itineraries to popular Caribbean ports in both the Eastern and Western Caribbean, travelers will also have plenty of onshore options. You can climb the dramatic Dunn’s River Falls in Jamaica, explore ancient Mayan ruins while docked in Cozumel, or shop till you drop in the duty-free St. Thomas.
For those who are looking to let loose, the three- and four-day Bahamas cruises on Norwegian Sky offer one of the best values in cruising. Perfect for any young adult looking for a party scene, the base fare for all Norwegian Sky cruises include Norwegian Cruise Line’s Ultimate Beverage Package. Yup, for as little as $150 a day, you have an open bar to enjoy while sailing the waters off the coast of Florida. This ship also features Norwegian’s signature Freestyle dining, meaning no set dining times or table assignments at one of seven restaurants.
When traveling to the Bahamas, you can spend a day at the luxury resort Atlantis or swim with the dolphins at the Blue Lagoon. Four-day cruises on Norwegian Sky also stop at Norwegian Cruise Line’s official private island, Great Stirrup Cay. Here you can snorkel, parasail or just relax with a drink in your hand as the open bar also includes this private island. Other Norwegian ships hit Cancun, Cozumel, Puerto Rico and destinations throughout the Caribbean.
If you go to school or live on the East Coast of the U.S. and don’t want to fly anywhere for spring break, then how about making your way to New York for a seven-day Bahamas trip on Norwegian Breakaway? Featuring a ropes course, a water park and an adult’s only Spice H20 area, this ship offers plenty of fun for cruisers of all ages. With 24-hour dining, two Broadway shows, a dueling piano bar and an Ice Bar at sea, you don’t need to even leave the ship to have a good time — and you'll have plenty of snaps for your Facebook feed, Snapchat or Instagram.
If you do decide to venture off the ship in Nassau, you can relax at some of the best beaches, including the public Junkanoo Beach, within walking distance from the pier. Families can explore the amazing Ardastra Gardens and Zoo, where your kids will get to interact with the animals or take an island tour to see historic forts and the famous Queen’s Staircase.
Do something different and try the Mexican Riviera for your next Spring Break cruise. Princess Cruises’s Ruby Princess takes cruisers to three ideal stops. Nothing says spring break like Cabo San Lucas, filled with miles of beautiful beaches and plenty of outdoor adventures like snorkeling and ziplines. Couples will like taking a relaxing stroll along the picturesque Malecón waterfront in Puerto Vallarta. And the kids are sure to love a sea lion encounter at Vallarta Adventures. While in Mazatlán, you can enjoy world-class sports fishing or shop shop shop in the Golden Zone.
Back onboard the Ruby Princess, enjoy a variety of dining options including the new Share restaurant, from Chef Curtis Stone. The nightly Movies under the Stars, complete with popcorn, are a cruiser favorite, so snuggle up with your loved ones and watch a movie on the large outdoor screen. Back inside, there are also numerous bars and nightly Broadway-style shows to get everyone in your travel party entertained.
Instead of spending a week on the usual-suspects beaches of Florida, head directly to San Juan for some Latin American flare on board Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas. With four different itineraries beginning in Puerto Rico, you have the chance to visit up to eight different islands, including St. Lucia, where you can gaze at the Pitons or go kitesurfing, or St. Kitts, where you can zipline through the jungle. Other stops include Barbados, Antigua and more. Reserve some time to explore Puerto Rico as well, including the historic El Morro and La Fortaleza. Nature lovers can hike El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest overseen by the U.S. Forest Service.
In between these port-intensive stops with UNESCO World Heritage sites, beautiful beaches and lush rainforests, take in an ice show at the indoor skating rink or enjoy a parade down the Promenade, lined with shops, restaurants and bars. Mount the rock climbing wall or challenge the family to a round of mini-golf. During your cruise, don’t miss the adult game show the Quest and the Dancing Under the Stars pool deck party, complete with dancing, music and a midnight buffet.
If you prefer cultural enrichment over tequila shots, then you should consider crossing the Atlantic. See some of the most historic European cities on a Mediterranean cruise on one of Viking Ocean’s new ships: Viking Star, which debuted last May, or Viking Sea, debuting next month, or Viking Sky, due out next year. These premium cruise ships provide all-balcony accommodations featuring some of the largest cabins at sea. Dine at one of 11 restaurants without a fee for specialty dining, including beer and wine at each meal. Be advised, these are not party ships, and they're not suited to kids, but they're great for couples of all ages. These elegant mid-size vessels offer enrichment lectures, port guides and free shore excursions at each port as well as free ship-wide wi-fi, which will set you back on most other cruise lines.
While sailing the Mediterranean, you'll visit some of the most iconic and picturesque cities in the world. See the Colosseum and the Vatican during your stop in Rome. Tour wine country and sample some of the great local fare in Tuscany. Climb the ancient steps of Kotor, Montenegro. Gaze at the architectural beauty of the Basilica of the Holy Family in Barcelona or try your luck as you explore Monte Carlo and its famous casino.
Thousands of people discover the amazing Galapagos Islands each year aboard a cruise ship. While pricey, Celebrity Xpedition’s weekly cruises to the Galapagos Islands are an all-inclusive trip, including pre-cruise accommodations, all meals and drinks on board, as well as expert guided shore excursions at the ports of call. A nature specialist holds seminars on the shp to further enhance your experience -- this might just be the best classroom at sea.
Enrichment is the goal of this spring break cruise. Learn about the region's diverse wildlife during the day and enjoy premium dining on this intimate megayacht at night. With only 100 guests, you'll make friends with nearly everyone on the expedition. While the amenities on board are limited, you'll receive five-star service from the award-winning Celebrity Cruises crew. You can unwind at the spa or enjoy some sun and panoramic views on the sun deck for a true spring break cruise feeling.
For spring break 2017, the soon-to-debut Carnival Vista will offer cruisers eight-night cruises to the Southern Caribbean. Featuring some firsts at sea like an IMAX theater, the Skyride (a bike ride suspended over the pool deck) and the first brewery at sea for a contemporary cruise ship, Carnival Vista itself is a worthy destination. With Serenity, the adults-only retreat area, and its multifaceted kids programs, this ship caters to young and old, couples, singles and families. With Carnival’s recently upgraded Cheers program, cruisers can now pay one flat fee for unlimited alcoholic beverages, making the ship a great choice for those 21+.
Carnival Vista offers Caribbean itineraries that are as unique as the ship herself. Travel to the beautiful beaches of Aruba or take advantage of some of the world's best scuba diving off the coast of Bonaire. Swim with the stingrays or explore the historic downtown of Grand Turk and become engulfed in the local culture in La Romana, Dominican Republic, as you tour the countryside. Don't forget to send us photos!
What could be better than listening to live performances by your favorite musical artist during spring break? How about rocking out with them on a cruise ship? During the month of March, lots of musical acts take to the high seas. Music festivals at sea feature meet and greets, trivia, special dining events and other fan exclusives. Previous festivals include this year’s Lebrewski Micro Brew and Music Cruise featuring OAR and Kid Rock’s Chillin the Most Cruise, both on board Norwegian Pearl. Featuring 12 bars, including the Bliss Ultra Lounge with a bowling alley, and 20 dining options, this ship is the perfect home to these intense spring break cruises.
This year, Carnival Live is featuring a spring break cruise with KC and Sunshine Band on March 21 to the Western Caribbean, followed by Journey (sailings to the Bahamas on May 1 and 5). Already announced for spring break of 2017 is a cruise by Mr. Miami himself, Pitbull.
Let Disney entertain the family
If you're not keen on spending the entire week at Walt Disney World parks, then a land and sea vacation package might be the best compromise. Spend three or four days at the park and then head to Port Canaveral near Orlando for a Bahamas spring break cruise on the Disney Magic. Consistently rated as one of the best cruise lines, Disney Cruise Line caters to families. Rotate throughout your cruise through three distinct dining rooms that integrate Disney magic with superb multi-course dinners. The kids will love the children’s programs, and parents will love the alone time so they can relax and enjoy their spring break, too!
The Disney theme continues when you stop at their private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay. Relax in the adults-only Serenity Bay Beach and enjoy a beachfront massage while the kids engage in water sports, table top games and activities all coordinated by the cruise staff. Another option: Charter a boat to get a tour of the surrounding island with the kids.
Whether it's a spring break cruise to the Caribbean, Europe or Mexican Rivera, you're bound to find something that's in tune with what for you're looking for. Why be landlocked on your vacation? There are spring break cruises geared to college friends, family members or even couples (like us) looking to have a good time.
Whether you've found the perfect spring break cruise already or need some travel planning advice, one of Cruiseable's travel experts will be happy to help you arrange the trip! Contact a Cruiseable travel advocate.
Have you taken a spring break cruise? Let us know where you went and how much fun you had by posting a comment below.